play the devil with (something)

(redirected from play the devil)

play the devil with (something)

To ruin or cause serious damage to something; to greatly upset, disrupt, or negatively affect something. Lack of oversight allowed overzealous investment bankers to play the devil with the economy. I love wine, but it plays the devil with my stomach!
See also: devil, play

play the devil with something

Fig. to cause disruption with something; to foul something up. Your being late really played the devil with my plans for the day. This weather is really playing the devil with my arthritis.
See also: devil, play

play the devil with

Upset, ruin, make a mess of, as in This weather plays the devil with my aching joints, or Wine stains play the devil with a white tablecloth. This allusion to diabolical mischief is heard more in Britain than in America. [Mid-1500s] Also see the synonym play havoc.
See also: devil, play

play the devil (or Old Harry) with

damage or affect greatly.
Old Harry has been a nickname for the devil in northern England since the 18th century.
See also: devil, play

play the devil with

To upset or ruin.
See also: devil, play